A Dog’s Purpose (Is Apparently to Make Me Cry)

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My dogs, Eliza & Cleopatra

Bruce Cameron swears he wrote this novel because at the end, the dog doesn’t die.  BAH.  The dog dies three times!  And that’s not a spoiler.  It’s the premise of  A Dog’s Purpose, A Novel for Humans that Toby-Bailey-Ellie-Bear-Buddy is one dog who reincarnates to find his/her “real purpose” for being born over and over again.

A Dog’s Purpose is written in first-dog point of view, sharing important dogisms, theories and understandings.

“Dogs have important jobs, like barking when the doorbell rings, but cats have no function in a house whatsoever.” Bailey’s dim view of cats extends to horses and ducks.  But he likes other dogs.

    In the Yard I quickly adjusted to life in the pack, I learned to love Señora and Carlos and Bobby and just when my play with Coco was starting to assume a different, more complex character, we were taken to visit the nice lady in the cool room and the urgency I’d been feeling went completely away.

Bailey, the dog’s second incarnation, finds his true purpose when the little golden retriever escapes a bad situation and is rescued by Ethan’s mom.  When Bailey meets ten year old Ethan, doggy angels sing.  “I guess I had never bothered to consider that there might be such a thing as a boy, but now that I had found one, I thought it was just about the most wonderful concept in the world.”

Now, this book spent 52 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list and brucecameron.com claims it has the highest reader-ranking of any “recent book on the New York Times best-seller list.”  Everyone from Temple Grandin to Alice Walker has endorsed it.  And it’s a great book.  But to claim that A Dog’s Purpose is not a sad book, is completely disingenuous.

IMG_1554My dog Abra

In the end, though, A Dog’s Purpose is like my relationships with dogs.  I love them beyond words.  And when they must go, I grieve them.  But the love exceeds the grief beyond measure.

MENU

 Deconstructed Bangers and Mash  This is one of my favorite Boxing Day recipes but it works for A Dog’s Purpose.  I buy the little smokies beef sausages and cook them in the oven at 350 until browned.  Then I find the smallest newimg_3774 potatoes I can and scrub them, roast them whole with sea salt, pepper and olive oil.  When both are cooked, stack a potato and a sausage on a toothpick.

You could serve hot dogs, but I don’t eat those so I wouldn’t serve them.

Keebler makes a dogbone shaped cracker for people called Scooby Doo! Baked Graham Cracker Snacks.  I would serve these with fruit (grapes and berries) and a yogurt and honey dipping sauce.  I make the sauce using a container of Greek yogurt, honey to taste and cinnamon.  It’s simple and tastes great and is healthy than sour cream and much better with fruit.

Puppy Chow:  My family’s favorite Christmas snack.  My mother makes several pounds of it in November.

  • 9 cups Rice Chex™, Corn Chex™ or Chocolate Chex™ cereal (or combination)
  • 1cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2cup peanut butter
  • 1/4cup butter or margarine
  • 1teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2cups powdered sugar
  • Place cereal Into large bowl, set aside.
  • In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.
  • Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

MUSIC

Man of the Hour, Norah Jones (MY FAVORITE!)

Hound Dog, Elvis Presley

Walking the Dog, Rufus Thomas

My Dog and Me, John Hyatt

Black Dog, Led Zeppelin

Won’t You Come Home, Bill Bailey?, Harry Connick, Jr. (and many others)

My Buddy, Frank Sinatra’s version is nice

Beer for My Horses, Toby Keith

Your Song, Ellie Goulding

MOVIE CAST

Really, the dogs are the most important characters, except for Ethan.  Dreamworks has a movie in development.

Ethan:  Zach Efron or Chord Overstreet (From Glee)

Hannah:  Carrie Underwood or Hayden Panettiere

Happy Reading!

Link to the Book Trailer video:  https://www.youtube.com/embed/px_8id3qPeQ“>

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Vacation: My Dog’s Life

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At the invitation of my dear friend, I recently escaped the polar vortex to spend a week basking in the South Florida sun.  We left with new snow on the ground and a temperature of 28 degrees and arrived in the full sun of a luxurious 75 degrees.  What divine goodness it was to sink into a lounge chair, the Gulf of Mexico foaming inches away, and feel my bones creak with thanks as they absorbed a dose of Vitamin D.  We slept in each morning until we felt like getting up, we took naps in the sun, we exercised as long as we wanted to and then walked some more.  We ate when we felt like it, not according to the demands of the clock or a social calendar.  Occasionally, someone even rubbed my back occasionally — with sunscreen.

In effect, for a week, I lived like my dogs do most of the time (lucky creatures).  Here is my own dearly departed basenji Cleopatra.  She loved basking in the sun, being scratched and running so fast she could not be caught.

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Coincidentally, while on vacation, I read The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein’s ode to the humanity of the canine; a book I had been avoiding for fear of crying unremittingly the whole way through.  By the end of the first page, I was sure my reluctance had been well-founded.  Enzo, the motley mutt with a man’s mind, begins the book by telling the reader he is about to pass into the great doghouse in the sky.

 

Enzo has gestures, he tells us, gestures only.  As much as he would love to be able to speak in words or write, he has never language nor opposable thumbs.  But Enzo speaks loudly through his gestures.  Through physical gestures Enzo is able to share comfort, enthusiasm, acceptance, and once, notably and hilariously, his disdain. I won’t ruin the surprise for you, but let me just say this:  never give a dog a pepperoncini.

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Enzo himself is full of love and wisdom, many times eclipsing the humans in his life.  The only difficulty I had with this concept was in the vein of “how can those two villainous humans refer to Enzo as a dog?” To me, a long-time dog devotee, it is clear dogs are semi-human or perhaps even super-human.  Science is coming to terms with the reality as well.  For more information on a relevant study see:  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1751-9004.2008.00087.x/abstract;jsessioni.

Read the book.  I give it two opposable thumbs and eight paws (the combined total for my housemates Abra and Eliza) up.  Enzo’s introduction serves as much as a benediction and blessing.

“This is what I love.  I love to run in the wet grass, keeping my snout low to the ground, so the sparkles of water cover my face.  I love to run and smell all the smells.  All the life.  When I return to this world, I will be a man.  I will walk among you.  I will shake hands with other men, grasping firmly with my opposable thumbs.  And when I see a man, or a woman, or a child in trouble, I will offer my hand to him, to her, to you, to the world.  I will be a good citizen.  A good partner in the endeavor of life that we all share.”  

Menu:

Hot dogs would be an obvious choice, but I can’t stomach hot dogs ever since reading The Jungle by Upton Sinclair in high school so I will suggest serving Enzo’s favorite two foods and have a breakfast for dinner party:  Pancakes with Bananas.  And here’s a recipe for Puppy Chow.

Ingredients
9 cups Chex cereal ( any kind)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, melted
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 -2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Directions
Measure cereal in large bowl.
Set aside.
Microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter for 1 minute on high.
Stir.
Cook for 30 seconds longer or until smooth.
Add vanilla.
Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until coated.
Pour mixture into large Ziploc bag and add powdered sugar.
Shake until well coated.
Spread on waxed paper to cool.
Store in Ziploc bags or large sealed bowl.

Music:

If you have time, you could put together a really fun playlist of songs like:

Hound Dog, Elvis Presley

Hound Dog, Big Mama Thornton

Puppy Love, Donny Osmond (a personal favorite)

Dog Named Boo, Lobo

Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog, Johnny Cash

He’s a Tramp,  Peggy Lee

Throw in a little Cat Stevens for fun

Casting:

There is a movie in the works with Thomas Bezucha hired to direct.  Originally Patrick Dempsey was to play Enzo’s owner Denny the race car driver and since Dempsey is a race car driver he would be perfect.  As to Enzo, I think Eliza my dog would be perfect too.

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